Monthly Archives: October 2012

Tia Poklemba suspect is back in town

Luis Gonzalez mug shot

He got picked up a  few months ago, in Mexico, and has been extradited back to Fort Myers to face charges.  I hear the arraignment is Monday.  It will be several months, if not year, for the case to get resolved…

He’s not to be confused with the other Luis Gonzalez, who might have the best mug shot ever…

Shine on you crazy diamond…

Ashley Toye case coverage

In case you didn’t catch it on Fox4 last night, Mike Mason did a compelling interview with Ashley Toye from prison that aired last night.  Tonight the story will be continued, with an interview with Toye’s current attorney, Stuart Pepper, who is working to reduce her sentence.  They talk about getting her out, but bear in mind that even a best case scenario for her will not result in her immediate release.  Rather, it’s the chance to get out someday.  She is going to serve long time in prison, no matter what.  As her sentence stands, she will get life in prison with no chance of parole, the question is, should the judge have the discretion to let her out someday.  See my recent discussions of juvenile sentencing if you want to read more. #cashfeenz

Ashley Toye – Cash Feenz case update

Ashley Toye

Ashley Toye mug shot

Ashley Toye, the girlfriend of Cash Feenz ringleader Kemar Johnson, had her motion for new sentence considered, and denied a few days ago.  I missed the hearing, unfortunately, but Matt Grant from Fox4 news was there with the details.  Ms. Toye’s case is interesting, as she was a juvenile at the time of the offense, and was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence, in spite of the fact that she was not involved in the actual killing.  Recent Supreme Court decisions cast that automatic life sentence into doubt.  However, a judge in Miami has ruled that the ruling is not retroactive, and Ms. Toye’s judge ruled that the sentence would stand.  Ms. Toye’s attorney, Stu Pepper, intends to continue trying to get her sentence reconsidered.

Off the cuff, it strikes me that even if the ruling isn’t retroactive, it would still hold that if the sentence was unconstitutional, Ms. Toye’s sentence would also be unconstitutional, regardless of the timing of the ruling.  Mr. Pepper has a long road in front of him, as the courts all over the country are dealing with how to handle the Supreme Court’s rulings regarding juvenile sentencing.

Apparently Ms. Toye will be profiled tonight on Fox4, including an interview in jail.  I can’t find the promo online, but I presume it will be during the 10 o’clock newscast.

For more reading, check out the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, which has had extensive coverage of the Graham and Miller ramifications.  Additionally, we have discussed it a few times here on Crimcourts.

Today in the news- Dunn, Zumba, Hurricanes… Update: Zimmerman news

Jury selection continues to crawl along in the Robert Dunn, Bobbie Noonan Day Care 1st Degree murder case.  According to the State Attorney’s Office, they have 29 potential jurors form the first two weeks of selection, and are hoping to get a panel of 60 for the next phase.  Clearly the publicity in the case is making it difficult to get an impartial jury.  However, it’s better to spend the extra time during jury selection to make sure to get it right, so the trial doesn’t have to be retried, as the Gateway Murders trial (Fred Cooper) a couple of years ago.

Alexis Wright, the Zumba Prostitute

“Zumba prostitute” Alexis Wright

Several more names have been released in the Zumba prostitution case (Alexis Wright).  That’s about 40 names at this point… most of them in that little town.  By scale- this is bigger than the Elliot Spitzer case in New York.

And finally, Crimcourts has our fingers crossed for everyone in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  We have an exclusive update from our own correspondent in NYC (my Mom).  Even this morning the streets are deserted.  Rain started at 11 am and has gotten worse, all the stores are closed.  Mom is staying near Grand Central Station, and it’s a ghost town.  Everyone on the east coast stay safe!  (Especially you, Mom!)

UPDATE: George Zimmerman news: the judge has denied a gag order request: the new Judge, Debra Nelson, ruled the State had failed to show prejudice.  This is the second time it has been denied.  Additionally, the judge limited the State’s request for medical records.  Trayvon Martin’s family attorney has been vociferously complaining, but ironically, the outspokenness and public presence the Martin family has presented in the media with their side of the story gives further justification for Zimmerman’s defense team giving updates. #standyourground

Robert Dunn trial jury selection continues

Alleged Day Care Killer Robert Dunn

I was able to stop by and peek in briefly on the jury selection today: it was remarkably like the first day of jury selection.  Several dozen jurors were brought in this afternoon, and broken down into smaller groups for individual questioning.  The publicity this case has received is making it difficult to find jurors who do not have any preconceptions about the facts of the case.  Recall the Fred Cooper case that went to trial here a few years ago (The Gateway murders case).  A jury was sworn and the trial took place, only to have to be retried when it came out that the jurors had let outside coverage influence their deliberations on the case.  Legend also has it they ran up an incredible bar tab while they were sequestered, but I don’t have any documentation of that!  The difficulty in finding a jury will extend the expected length of this trial… I suspect a month or more would not be out of the question, if they are able to empanel a jury.

DUI checkpoints planned for Halloween week

The whole state is promoting a ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ to coincide with Halloween, and Charlotte County is pulling out the stops.  Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is planning ‘Low-Manpower Checkpoints” in different places throughout the county over several days, starting Oct. 26 through Oct. 31.  All law enforcement will certainly be on high alert, as there is a lot of drinking and driving around all holidays, but Halloween in particular, and a there are a lot of children out.

The Low-Manpower checkpoints create an additional concern for police intrusions.  All checkpoints involve stopping a lot of innocent drivers to potentially catch a few impaired drivers.  CCSO uses the low-manpower checkpoints to save money and still be able to stop as many drivers as possible.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a series of checkpoints that were more than a couple of weekend nights, though that doesn’t inherently make them flawed. I do have concern, as I have successfully challenged the Charlotte County low-manpower checkpoints in court before.  One of my first defense cases involved a motion to suppress such a checkpoint, aka a roadblock, which was ruled in my favor on appeal.  That because the Guy v. State case that literally ended up causing hundreds of bad police stops around the state to be thrown out for bad checkpoints and/or bad checkpoint plans.  The police are allowed to randomly stop people in the form of a checkpoint, but the guidelines they follow are stringent and must be adhered to, due to the concern of police unfairly stopping innocent drivers without cause.

Last minute stay puts execution in doubt for Crazy John Ferguson: update

crazy john ferguson

John Ferguson, via DOC

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has issued a last-minute stay of execution on John Ferguson, a man suffering from schizophrenia who killed 8 people.  The Supreme Court earlier this evening denied 3 emergency appeals, and he was being prepped for the execution when the order came down.  He had already eaten his last meal.  The State has filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court asking them to allow the execution to proceed.

This is the stuff of movies.  All death sentence cases have last-minute appeals, often in state and federal courts.  However, it’s highly unusual for them to be granted, especially at such a late hour, especially by a lower court after the Supremes Rule.

I haven’t been following the case that closely, though it has garnered some interest due to the fact that Mr. Ferguson has extreme mental health issues: Scott Greenfield calls him “Crazy John Ferguson”.  The AP has some good background– it’s tough to track this case, as so much is happening so quickly, and courts don’t handle quickly well.  @FloridaLegal has found a link to the stay order.  The briefs will be due in a matter of weeks, which wold hold the execution that long… unless the Supreme Court steps in.  It would be highly unlikely for the court to rule that there is no issue to be heard to lift the stay, but nothing would surprise me at this point. #johnferguson

UPDATE: Supreme Court will not step in tonight.  Thanks @Floridalegal:

Sarah Jones interrogation video

Sarah Jones modelling was able to get the interrogation video from Sarah’s pre-arrest interview.  Nothing shocking if you already saw the Dateline interview, as they played substantial clips, but worth a look if you’ve followed the Sarah Jones story.  Be sure to check out our Sarah Jones archive.

Robert Dunn jury selection continues

I haven’t been able to get to the courtroom for a live update, though I walked by and they seemed quite busy with ongoing jury selection.  I have heard that it’s going particularly slowly due to the publicity of the case, and the subsequent difficulty in finding jurors with no prejudice or familiarity with the facts.  There remains a possibility that the case will have to change venues, that is, try for a jury in a different county.  The courts try to avoid doing that, due to difficulty and expense of moving a trial, and the Casey Anthony trial picked a jury out-of-town, but brought them back for the trial.  It remains a possibility.  More updates as the week goes on…

UPDATE: Newpress has story, few more details:

OJ Simpson headed back to court.

O.J. Simpson mug shot

OJ Simpson is asking for a new trial in his Las Vegas robbery case.  Simpson has filed an ineffective assistance of counsel motion, which is a standard motion after the appeals have run their course.  The primary grounds are that his attorney, Yale Galanter, had financial interests in the case that gave him a conflict of interest, and that he was not advised of the State’s plea offer.  For the first claim to succeed, Simpson’s attorneys will have to convince a judge that a different attorney would have done something differently if not for the conflict; otherwise there was no harm to Simpson.  The State may call Galanter to the stand to testify whether he presented the plea offer to Simpson, as Simpson claims he would have accepted the offer.  These motions are commonly filed, and are a long shot.  The judge has allowed a hearing, which means that sufficient allegations have been raised, but the burden will be on Simpson to prove the truth fo the allegations, and that a different result would have been likely.